Sen. Black’s letter to Assad

It’s not every day a member of the Virginia General Assembly makes national news, but Sen. Dick Black has managed to do just that with his letter to Syrian President Bashar Assad:

“I write to thank the Syrian Arab Army for its heroic rescue of Christians in the Qalamoun Mountain Range,” the letter begins. Black praises the Syrian army’s efforts against the forces that have been challenging Assad’s power for several years, which the letter claims are “dominated by our arch-enemy Al Qaeda.” By protecting Christians in the country, Assad has “followed the practice of [his] father by treating with respect all Christians and the small community of Jews in Damascus.”

Black’s letter made it to Assad’s Facebook page.

And Black rationalized his missive this way:

“If we were to topple President Assad, then Syria would be taken over by al-Qaeda’s allies,” Black said. “I don’t need to debate anyone over whether he’s a great man or not, but to me, the decision is a very clear decision between al-Qaeda and President Assad. Now President Assad and his father before him have maintained peace with Israel for 40 years and they have protected the 15 percent Christian minority in Syria during that time.”

“Whatever a person’s view is of President Assad, he certainly has never exhibited the savagery of these jihadist groups fighting against him.”

I get what Black is saying about the defense of the region’s Christian minority. But God and everyone else knows the United States has a long and checkered record of supporting murderous and/or thieving autocrats because the alternative would be…a murderous and/or thieving autocrat beholden to the other side.

Politically, it’s about as stupid as can be. Assad is the author of the wholesale murder of his own people. Not that Assad’s opponents are a fountain of sweetness and light. Many of them are just as bad, or worse, as Assad.

But that’s no excuse for a Virginia state senator to send a letter of thanks — on official letterhead, no less — to the head of a regime that, even during its peaceful heyday, was a brutal police state that treated its opponents as so much human garbage.

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